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Saturday, February 27, 2016

Chillin and Uphillin

While this hasn't been the greatest winter for snow coverage on the surrounding country side, Windham Mountain has done an impeccable job keeping their slopes covered with man made snow and on this Saturday morning I headed out once again to conquer the east peak of Cave Mountain.  It was in the 20s when I left the Adaptive Sports Foundation and by the time I reached the Wheel House Lodge, I was sweating and opened all the vents.

The best way to the top is Wanderer.  It's the longest, flattest way up the mountain.  Today, however, it was really icy because during the previous week it warmed up and they got a lot of rain.  Still, Windham took advantage of the cold weather that returned on Thursday and Friday to put down as much man made snow as possible which made a huge difference.    

Half way up the climb, I started to feel blisters starting to form on the insides of my heels and realized that I must have the wrong socks on.  I stayed the course and although it hurt like hell it was totally worth the view and knowing that you just climbed 1,400 feet. 

As I was applying band aids to my blisters a few ski patrollers asked if I need anything but when I showed them my first aid kit they were impressed.  I don't mess around.

With my wounds covered, skins off, and gear reconfigured for the descent I went down Why Not, which is a steep Most Difficult run.  It was icy and really challenging but every turn was worth it.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Last Day as a Stay at Home Dad Ride

My wife was quick to point out that my status as a Stay at Home Dad was only cursory and I didn't experience everything like doing the laundry, making the kids lunches and dinners, and doing the shopping.  I did, however, drive them to school, get them off the bus and make them snacks when they got home.  There was the dishes, always doing dishes.  My new status was coming to an end because I landed a new job and would be starting next week.  Since this was my last day, and my wife wasn't working, I decided to head off for a much bigger ride.

I decided to go for a three hour, unscripted ride.  I had a route planned but at the last minute I threw caution to the wind and decided not follow the pre-planned course and just go with my gut.  It was a good choice.  It was so nice out, albeit still cold, I wore much darker lenses, which is something I rarely do these days.

The first part of the ride, the temperature stayed in the upper 30s and I was actually hot by the time I got down to the end of North Park Avenue in Easton. At the southern most point of the route the temperature was almost 40 degrees F but on the way back, it started to fall again. 

After crossing over the Aspetauk River I took old Stage Coach Road because Old Redding Road has a steep descent at the end but then there is a stop sign so I all that speed gets waisted.  Conversely, Kellogg Hill does the same thing because you then have to cut back north at a stop sign onto Valley Forge Road for the ride back along the Saugatuck Reservoir.  The only drawback to Old Stagecoach is that it's not in the best condition.

The Saugatuck Reservoir was almost completely full.  That big rainstorm earlier in the week did quite a number on the area and it brought a tremendous amount of rain, too, which was clearly evident by how much water was in the reservoir.  From here, I headed over to Giles Hill and then to the Redding Ridge Deli for a hot chocolate and a Boston Cream.  While the picture above is blurry that's exactly how I saw it at this point.  I think all the activity makes me very far sighted these days.

There were closed roads all over the place and the din of home generators filled the air on this ride.  On Poverty Hollow I came across downed wires and all the houses along the road had generators running.  Hard to believe it's been almost 4 years since Hurricane Sandy and the local electrical utility still drags their feet.  10% of the town was out of power the day after the storm.  School was canceled because there were upwards of 30 roads closed in town, and three days afterwards only 3% of the town had their power restored.  Looks like the name change of the power company was purely aesthetic because it was business as usual when it came to post storm power restoration.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Post apocalyptic rain storm "snow day"

Woke up this morning to find out school was delayed 2 hours and figured I wouldn't riding to well after 2 because of a call I had to take.  20 minutes later, the town broadcasts that school is now canceled and there isn't any new snow on the ground.  However, last night we did have one hell of a storm last night with lightning and wind.  Turns out the storm caused 23+ road closures and knocked out power to 10% of the town.

Temperature this morning was almost 60 degrees but I didn't take any chances and layered accordingly with leg and arm warmers and my new bib shorts that my kids gave me for Christmas. Found my old shoe covers and threw those on over my summer cycling shoes.  However, 30 minutes into the ride the weather drastically changed by dropping 10 degrees and started to drizzle.  I was warm enough but a shell would have been nice.  

All the streams were swollen and the ponds were overflowing. A lot of water over the roads, too, and I was glad for the fender.  I was tempted to ride further into Monroe but decided against it because I had no idea what roads were closed so I did my basic look and tacked on Tunnel & Taunton Roads on the way out and Sandy Hook on the way home.

I am really loving these new tires from Serfas.  I am running 110 psi upfront and 120 in the rear and they ride really solid and feel great, even on wet roads such as today.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Birthday Winter Ride

Lake Lillilonah

Headed out today for a slightly longer ride and with snow in the offing I decided to forgo trying to hit all the dirt roads in Newtown and Trumbull and head north into Litchfield County.

Shepaug River, Roxbury, CT
After crossing Lake Lillilonah I climbed up Hut Hill and descended down into Roxbury and noticed that it wasn't getting any warmer, in fact, the temperature was dropping.  Everything was OK but I could have used a balaclava, wool socks, and instead of a t-shirt, I should have had a long sleeve wicking shirt on.  I just suffered through it.  In fact, once I hit Roxbury Market, the only thing chilled was my toes.  They never warmed up the whole time.

Roxbury Airport
I never climbed the entire length of Good Hill before but today I did and it was fun, but slow.  At the top is an old airport that I think is still used.  There seemed to be one working plane in a hangar and a few in disrepair, too.

Old planes at Roxbury Airport

I don't think the plane with the old Army Air Corp markings is an actual war plane.  My guess is it's just an old crop duster.  Still, that would be a fun plane to fly around here.

Top of Good Hill, Roxbury, CT

What goes up must come down.  From Good Hill and down into Southbury its a fast descent.  Having never ridden this part before I figured that this must be the road that Transylvania Rd ends on so I figured I wouldn't have to ride through Southbury to get home.

90 minutes into the ride it was time for breakfast, consisting of a Cliff Bar.  It tasted really good! From here, it took me another hour to ride home.  The temperature warmed up a degree or two but it really wasn't noticeable.  Probably be on the trainer for Wednesday because of the snow and rain in the forecast for Wednesday. 

On the road again!

Almost three months have gone by and I am finally back on the road after my crash in the latter part of December.  Granted, I probably have could have gotten back on the bike sooner, since I was already skiing a week after, I played it safe and stayed completely off.

I ended up leaving a lot later than I originally intended after a few calls in the morning and running a bunch of errands midday but it felt great once I was pedaling.  My chief concerns were the afternoon commute, sand on the side of the roads and potholes.  It was 43 degrees when I left the house and I probably should have had a my warmer cycling jacket on but overall I was fine.  I did start getting cold towards the end of the ride.  Also had my Lake303s on with wool socks.  My feet got hot initially but later when it got colder my feet were perfect!

Rode down to the bottom of Sandy Hook and then the long arduous climb to the top of Castle Hill. Might as well start with something big.  The climb killed my average speed and it sort of never recovered, either.  Going to have to work on that.  After marveling at the famous view of Newtown's Flag Pole and Church Hill I headed towards Bethel on Castle Hill.  Along the way, I met up with Lisa Marie, the author of the Newtown Run Project, picking up trash along the side of the road.

I kept going straight into Bethel and then hooked back around to ride home on one of my old bike commuting routes.  There were some big changes on good old OBR (Old Bethel Road).  As I mentioned earlier, the last three miles to home base were the coldest and I was wishing I had my better jacket on.  Everything felt great and I can't wait to do it again!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Skinning the Western Summit at Windham

This time I picked the right way to skin up to the western summit at Windham Mountain but not the best day in terms of the weather.  The thermometer at Adaptive Sports Foundation read 9 degrees and the windchill made it feel like -10 degrees Fahrenheit.

After making sure that Elliot was properly bundled for his race training I headed out.  I had an extra sweater on, over mitts, and a balaclava which I had to pull down once I got a feel of that wind.  I had to take the over mitts off 20 minutes into the climb but kept everything else on.

Still, it was hot and I had to open the zipper to my fleece and my zip pits because of the exertion but kept the balaclava on for the wind, despite the sweat pouring off my head.

This was the second time climbing up Whiskey Jack however I had plenty of time to reach the summit.  The bottom section of Upper Wraparound is a little hairy because its so narrow.  I had no trouble climbing up but had to wait near the top to traverse to the other side while a long throng of snowboarders and skiers came by.  I hate to say this but snowboarders are the worst!  Some guy stopped to chat with me and snowboarder ran right between us.  He passed within a foot of me and he was going extremely fast.  One the Ski Safety Patrollers noticed this and went after him.  I hope he got his ticket pulled!

At the summit of the western peak the wind was so fierce I de-skinned behind the Ski Patrollers shack.  Threw on my shell and helmet and took a more direct route down the mountain.

I got back to ASF with plenty of time before Elliot returned.  For some reason my Strava app failed on the iPhone.  I think because I had to bury it number my jacket so it wouldn't freeze it lost signal and never recorded the route.  Fortunately, I always bring my old cycling GPS, my Garmin Edge 705 and got a good track.  It took me an hour 20 minutes to get to the top.

Elliot returning training but was totally warm.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Blue Ribbon Snowshoeing

Had a little time to kill midday on Tuesday so I went for a little snowshoe at Upper Paugussett State Forest.  It was an interesting day, partly cloudy with a little wind out of the northwest.  When the sun went behind the clouds it was cold but when it was out, it was nice and warm.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Uphill Skiing Walk of Shame

This was my fourth day of uphill skiing at Windham Mountain and I planned to try the new trail called Wolf's Prey to get to the summit of the western peak after two previously failed attempts.  Of course if I had all day, the two previously failed attempts would have been successes but my activities are tied to the time my son is out race training.

The Trail Map that Windham offers is very misleading because I found that Wolf's Prey was essentially straight up.  I grabbed a water break on a corner section of the trail where there was a rock I could sit on and take a little rest.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Uphill Skiing to my first Summit

Now that I am know what I am doing when it comes to skinning uphill my third weekend at Windham Mountain I went for the summit on Cave Mountain.  I took White Way to Wanderer.  It's a green trail but going up is still challenging because there are still some steep sections to contend with. Also, you have watch out for blind ascents because you can get some yahoo who won't be able to see you, all of a sudden be on top of you!

Three quarters of the way up I had to hit the bottle.  It started out around 20 this morning but when the sun came out and all the climbing I was doing I got hot and thirsty.  Along the way, I met up with two women on snowshoes.  It's funny but I have yet to see another person skinning.  Plenty of snowshoers but no skiers.  

By the time I got to the top I was drenched!  I had some more water, ate half a cliff bar, changed and then took a really nice run back down the slope I just climbed up.  By the time I was down at the bottom, my quads were killing me.

In the afternoon I tried to summit the second peak but ended up on the wrong trail and didn't make it. Not sure how or why this happened but boot must have been too lose because I terrible blisters on both sides of my heel.  I will have to try a different sock next time.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

2nd Skin

The following weekend it was really cold so I dressed accordingly.  This time around I wore a cycling t-shirt and thermal long sleeve that I also wear for the cycling.  Over that I was wearing my favorite fleece with zip pits.  However, by the time I got to top of Wilbur Park I was sweating profusely once again.

I headed up Wing'n it but then when I saw the last section to the top I knew I wasn't making that so I cut over on a trail called Wintuck, thinking I would probably be able to climb Why Not only to find the trail closed due to ski racing.

In the afternoon I headed over to the western side of the resort to try and climb the western mountain. Along the way I saw Elliot up in the chair.  I was probably 100 yards up the mountain and we was already taking his third run.

I never made it up the western mountain but I still had fun climbing.  Coming down was great, too.